8 Cocktails That Changed the World... Of Cocktails
By: Nick Bennett
Credit: Liz Childers
When you’re sitting in a bar, drinking a Negroni or a Martini or some Midori mixed with grenadine and Jolt cola, you likely don’t think about what got that drink in your hand in the first place, do you? DO YOU?!?! Well, luckily we do, which is why we asked our longtime contributor/master mixologist Nick Bennett to look back at the eight drinks that have most impacted the world of cocktails (for better or worse) over the past 200 years:
Credit: Liz Childers
Whiskey Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
It would be irresponsible to start any list of the Most Important Cocktails without first mentioning the OG classic, the Old Fashioned. As early as 1806 there are references to the “Bittered Sling”, a morning tippler comprised of spirit, sugar, bitters, and water, a combination that would span centuries and be among the first to bear the name “cocktail”.
The first documented appearance of a recipe that we would recognize was introduced as the Whiskey Cocktail in How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion by Professor Jerry Thomas. This original incarnation would curl the modern mixologist’s moustache in all the wrong ways, as it was shaken and served up in a wine glass. But this was only the beginning. This combination would evolve into the Improved Cocktail, which used posh European ingredients, such as chartreuse, maraschino, and absinthe to get fancy. This might have been fine for youngsters like your great grandfather, but real gentlemen, like your great-great grandfather were more comfortable ordering their whiskey cocktails in the old-fashioned way, which gradually morphed into the more recognized recipe at the end of the 19th century.
As Robert Simonson mentions in his book, The Old Fashioned, this recipe is the “embodiment of the cocktail” and in the “many variation that have followed, there is liberty and invention.” In the world of cocktails, what other recipe can hold a claim to that?
The Whiskey Cocktail
3 or 4 dashes of gum syrup
2 drops bitters (Boker’s)
1 wine glass of whiskey, and a piece of lemon peel.
Fill one third full of fine ice; shake and strain in a fancy red wine glass.
Taken From Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion 1862